Restaurant Review: Corktown's awesome Supergeil is a place to bring friends

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

When you look at a lot of restaurant menus, sometimes your eyes start to glaze over at what seems like similar appetizers, expected entrees, predictable salad structures and the same old craft cocktails on black and white pages. 

None of that is present at new restaurant Supergeil in Corktown. The paper food and drink menu is artful like a tarot deck or a whimsical children's storybook. Right away things get interesting with tinned fish at the top of the menu: mackerel, mussels, sardines and tuna, served with an array of salty, pickled and crusty accoutrement. 

It sets the tone for the cocktail-forward new restaurant with cuisine influenced by the Balkan region and beyond. It's unapologetically hip with fun artwork, bright colors and vinyl on the stereo, and great for groups with its sharable plates and large tables.   

I rushed here when Supergeil opened in July to try its döner kebab, a colorful, multi-textured sandwich of thinly-sliced lamb and beef, crunchy slaw and flavorful sauces stuffed inside a beautifully grilled, house-baked flatbread. The restaurant is rightfully proud of this sandwich and wants to be able to serve it to all. Executive chef Brendan McCall and chef de cuisine Joshua Taylor also offer chicken and eggplant versions and an option for gluten-free bread. 

A sandwich called 'Turkish & The Wolf' made with Swiss chard, coleslaw, Swiss cheese and buttered rye.

Another standout is the Turkish and the Wolf sandwich. The vegetarian dish kind of reminded me of a 21st century version of a deli sandwich you may get down the street at longstanding Hygrade Deli. Expertly toasted, sturdy rye bread holds in the creamy slaw and just-melted cheese, but it's the braised Swiss chard, seasoned like corned beef, that really sings. 

(If you're wondering if there's a connection to New Orleans restaurant Turkey and the Wolf, which has a similar sandwich, Supergeil confirmed that yes, it's an homage to them.) 

Get either sandwich with the crispy fries, drizzled with a flavorful, creamy sauce and dressed with a few velvety, bitter microgreens and some sliced chili peppers for a punch. Another good shareable are the deviled eggs topped with salmon roe. Both dishes are also on available on the happy hour menu (4-6 p.m. Tues.-Thurs.) for just a few bucks.

Also good with fries, the kreuzburger is a simple juicy, savory bar burger with American cheese, onion and pickle. 

The spacious Supergiel — which translates to "super cool" or "awesome" in German — is full of colorful art, exposed brick and creative touches. You may be sat in a circular tan booth under wicker light fixtures and bright green hanging plants, or in a room near the kitchen beside a massive black-and-white mural depicting wild animals. Sit solo at the bar and gaze at the portrait of actor Jeff Goldblum holding a velociraptor like a lamb, or bring your whole group to a table in the event space, which is home to a large, living fig tree. 

Beverage director, manager Ryan Sparks pours one of three gin and tonics Supergeril has on draft, while preparing a drink called the Matrak.

A huge part of the experience at Supergeil is the bar program, which offers crafted cocktails with and without alcohol, and use a lot of the same flavors and spices that you'll find in the food here.

Supergeil is owned by Two James Spirits founder David Landrum; the distillery and tasting room is across the street. The restaurant's license permits it to serve only alcohol that they produce or import, says bar manager Ryan Sparks. Expect a lot of Two James products, house-made liqueurs and imported sherries and wine. 

You can't get a Miller High Life and a shot of Jameson here, but why would you want to when you can order a Kolsch-style beer and a shot of Two James' Smoking Gun Whiskey. Gin is the star of the cocktail menu, however, and the buttery and herbal Schvitz Martini is marvel. Made with olive oil-washed gin, it's served with Bulgarian feta and olives. 

'Matrak,' made with barrel rested Gin, on draft, with Baharat chai tonic.

I also recommend the Matrak from the draft cocktail list with barrel rested gin and tonic with flavors and aromas of mint and chai, served in an big glass over ice. Get a botanical lift without the booze with the N.A. Groni Parma, a nonalcoholic mix with flavors of gin, verjus (juice of unripe grapes) and Alta Amaro soda. 

Since opening in the summer, Supergeil has been my go-to answer when people ask me which new restaurant they should try. It's fun and interesting and good for groups or a solo visit, and price points vary enough that you can keep it kind of tight or splurge. You don't need a reservation; if it's busy you can go to any of the many nearby Corktown bars and they'll call you when you're table is ready. 

Supergeil recently expanded hours to offer lunch on Fridays. They also serve lunch Saturdays and brunch Sundays. 

This Sunday, however, the neighborhood spot is hosting a special event from noon-8 p.m. It's a wassail (mulled cider) party and market with a chance to purchase wines, gift packages and Christmas trees. Tickets, $55, include an all-you-can-eat feast of Cornish hens with stuffing, roast beef sandwiches, popovers, candied yams and parsnip mashed potatoes, plus a glass of mulled wine or beer.

Twitter: @melodybaetens


2442 Michigan, Detroit

(313) 462-4133.

Rating: ★★★ (excellent)

Hours: 4-11 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.), noon-1 a.m. Fri.-Sat. (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.) and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. (kitchen closes at 8 p.m.)

Prices: Tins of fish, $15 or two for $28; starters, $2-$16; sandwiches, $11-$14; large plates, $32-$48; dessert, $6; cocktails, $12; beer and wine by the glass, $5 and up; aged ciders $9 per glass, $28-$32 per bottle. 

Reservations: None taken

Carryout: Yes, order via website

Outdoor dining: Large patio and open air area near garage doors when weather permits. 

Noise level: Varies by room; vinyl records are often playing on the stereo 

Accessibility: No barriers 

Parking: Street parking

What the stars mean: 

★ — good

★★ — very good

★★★ — excellent

★★★★ — extraordinary

More reviews:

• There's something for everyone at East African cafe Baobab Fare

• Aldana brings Guadalajara's colors and flavors to Troy

Corktown restaurant Supergeil in Detroit, Michigan on December 3, 2021.